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Bid to be bag-free


A campaign has started to ban plastic carrier bags in Southwell.

A Newark and Sherwood district councillor, Mrs Paul- ine Jenkins wants Southwell to follow the example set by Modbury in Devon which last year became the first town in Europe to be plastic bag-free.

“I had a general feeling that plastic bags are very wasteful and then I read about Modbury and how they got rid of plastic bags completely,” said Mrs Jenkins.

“The bags do so much damage to the environment because they don’t degrade.

“I want to discuss it with people in Southwell but want to take this campaign as far as possible.

“I want to work towards not having plastic bags at all.

“I would be delighted if that was what everyone wanted.

“I would like to see the town plastic bag-free.”

Mrs Jenkins, who represents Southwell East on the district council, called on people to consider how they used plastic bags.

“Most of the time we could be using paper bags, biodegradable corn starch bags or other reusable bags,” she said.

“I’d like it to stop being standard practice to be handed a plastic bag and for there to be a small charge for receiving one.

“In Ireland there is an environmental tax on them and that money goes towards environmental projects.

“It would be good if we could stop shops giving them out in handfuls and make getting a plastic bag the exception rather than the rule.”

People will be asked what they think about the idea as part of the questionnaire that will help shape Southwell’s next town plan.

“I think there are already quite a lot of people who try not to use plastic bags but it would be good if the traders got behind this,” said Mrs Jenkins.

In Modbury the plastic bag ban was achieved with the co-operation of all the town’s traders.

The secretary of Southwell Traders’ Association, Mr Robert Beckett, said he would raise the issue with members.

“I couldn’t say whether traders would be behind it or not because it may be that some shops can and some shops can’t,” he said.

Some traders already provide reusable bags.

The owner of the Spar shop in Leeway Road, Mr Nick Turner, said he planned to stop giving free plastic bags within the next few months.

“We’ve got a hessian bag for life and the uptake for them has been so great that we have run out and have had to order more,” he said.

“If people have to pay for carriers then hopefully it will persuade them to carry their own bags with them.

“When I first started working 30 years ago we didn’t really hand out carrier bags because people brought shopping bags with them so this would be a move back to that.

“Having plastic bags floating about the town with your logo on them isn’t a good advert for your shop.”

The Handicentre in Queen Street sells reusable cotton bags.

The manager, Mr John Green, said: “We’re trying to encourage people not to take plastic bags and, although we’ve not made a definite decision as a company, if there was a campaign to cut back on giving out plastic bags we would support it.”

The owner of Goff’s butchers, Mr Graham Goff, said they were considering charging for plastic bags.

“We have a 99p cotton bag and they’ve got quite a following — we’ve started a wall of photos of people on holiday around the world with their Goff bags,” he said.

A spokesman for the Co-op, which has a branch in Ropewalk, said they were working to reduce the number of plastic bags given to customers.

“We fully support efforts to reduce plastic carrier bag usage,” he said.

“Recent initiatives have led to a 38% reduction in the number of free, throwaway plastic bags we have issued.”

Lowe’s Wong Junior School, Southwell, launched its own reusable hessian bags, called Wong Bags, in June last year.

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